Paulsboro residents getting help but not always answers

As the evacuation zone around the Paulsboro chemical spill grew, a steady stream of residents went to the community center in nearby Gibbstown. Inside, residents said they were able to get hotel and food vouchers, and in one case even a check for back wages, for a Paulsboro bartender.

The enlarged evacuation zone adds 100 homes to the 50 already cleared out. Residents outside of the zone might still receive another shelter-in-place order if vinyl chloride levels in the air spike again, as they have twice this week.

It was last Friday when a freight train derailed on a bridge, cracking open a tank full of vinyl chloride and sending a vapor cloud over this South Jersey town.

Outside of the evacuee help center in Gibbstown, many residents were grateful for the assistance they’ve received, but not everyone got what they wanted.

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LaShawn Graves lives outside of the evacuation zone and said she doesn’t understand why, nearly a week after the accident, the evacuation area suddenly grew.

“We’re in an uproar and we’re scared because of the fact that we’re not being notified of what’s going on,” she said.

Graves may get some answers tonight. She plans to attend a Coast Guard sponsored community meeting at 6:30 p.m. in nearby Gibbstown. Representatives from various agencies are expected to provide an update on air quality, clean up efforts and evacuee assistance issues.

The Coast Guard, which helping with cleaning up the accident, said it’s hoping that the Paulsboro evacuation will be over on Sunday.

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